PHOENIX — The Department of Justice has awarded the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office millions of dollars to help solve cold cases and process sexual assault rape kits.
The attorney’s office will receive $3 million — $500,000 for cold cases and $2.5 million for several other initiatives including rape kit testing, training and hiring of detectives, and more, MCAO said Tuesday.
The cold case grant will help pay for additional DNA testing, create a countywide database of cold cases, hire a data analyst and offer more resources in investigations.
The other $2.5 million is part of the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI), which will help process sexual assault kits in a timely manner and further support sexual assault investigations.
“This is the first time our office has been awarded this grant. Our goal is to increase the number of successful prosecutions of cold cases throughout our county and provide closure to the victims of violent crimes,” said Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel in a press release Tuesday.
The office has previously received more than $6 million in grants dating back to 2015, MCAO said last year. The money has been used for training, testing of 4,500 kits, and more resources for rape victims.
ABC15 previously reported thousands of rape kits were left sitting in evidence rooms and, in turn, delayed justice for victims.
In 2016, Gov. Doug Ducey addressed the issue during his State of the State address and promised to make sure the kits got tested. At the time, there were about 6,000 untested kits. Now, new policies are supposed to keep backlogs from forming.
In December of last year, MCAO said they indicted 18 people accused of sexual assault in the last few years, stemming from new evidence brought on by rape kits that were left untested.